#WeekendDigest: Nigerians and rising tales of customer care comedy

From the last check made, it was discovered that 99 per cent of Nigerians have received a stray call or SMS from their network providers one time or the other, this prompted VICTOR OGUNYINKA to report on the rising fight back by Nigerians to end this ‘anomaly.’


IF you’re a Nigerian or quite familiar with the most populous black nation, the saying “Nigerians no dey carry last” (only in Olympics anyway) would be one you must have heard countless number of times.

That saying connotatively means that you can’t beat Nigerians to their game.

Of course, Nigerians have a whole lot of games; unique pranking, joking over serious issues, suffering and smiling, and most recently, social media comedies. Truth is these subtitle ways of comedic exercises, which has, at least, helped us laugh when it matters most, is probably the reason Nigeria is still united since 1960.

I almost forgot to add the Alaba international market connection and Nollywood to the list of what makes Nigerians tick.

That said, there’s a new, developing distraction going on in the telecommunication industry.

The telecommunication industry, for sometimes now has been one thing the haves and have-nots have in common. We use same network providers, same credit cards (maybe not same amount), sometimes buy at same place in our conventional gridlock. Not sure the haves borrow airtime from their service provider anyway.

Now to the matter: Recently, a conversation between a customer care agent and a customer was leaked and it went viral, which has attracted so many interesting reactions from all and sundry. It’s more comedic than critical if you ask me and I’ve taken turn to have rounds of stomach-aching laughter whenever it comes to memory.

For those that haven’t gotten a wind of that audio, let me keep you up to speed before you lay hands on it.

So, this guy from Anambra State, Awka Local Government precisely called and spoke with customer care agent in one of our network providers and humbly requested the agent that attended to him to please tell him where he could get a bag of rice for N15,000 or lesser because the ones around Awka are sold for N30,000 and more (now, I’m laughing again).

The confused agent was caught off guard and probably took some seconds to gather himself together and when he did, in the humblest of manners as they were taught, told our guy that they only attend to problems relating to their phones and SIMs.

The response of our guy from Awka would leave you in stitches. In strong Igbo ascent (sorry about that guys) he said: “I know that’s what you do, but I deliberately called you to ask for this so that you know what it feels like when you disturb me with your unnecessary calls and messages.

“So, you’re acting busy now abi? I bought my phone for myself not for you to call me with numbers that I don’t know.”

It gets interesting when the guy said “as long as you continue to call me, I’ll continue to call to disturb you with issues like this until you stop calling me.”

Okay, that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for that call agent you’d say.

I’m sure 90 per cent of esteemed readers would give thumbs up for our man that placed that SOS call on rice.

It has become so annoying living with the fact that all through our lifetime in this country that electricity is one hell of a luxury that common man can’t afford. After fighting through the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and long queues in filling stations, Nigerians will still say they don’t have petrol in the price they would have loved. So why should a network provider now add more insult to these injuries?

Feeling the pulses of aggrieved Nigerians on how they feel about these unfriendly friends, the responses showed that if nothing is done on time, majority might cut the government some slacks for their undoing and vent all the angers on network providers.

One of the people we spoke with revealed that there’s a particular short code call from one of the providers, if you pick that call, you will be charged for it, a customer care agent confirmed.

I mean, why would my network provider of all things in the world, early in the morning (including Monday morning o), send me a congratulatory message saying “you’re now qualified to borrow airtime.”

As if these guys know we’re out for them, somebody said he’d saved different numbers from his network providers just so he doesn’t end up picking another stray call when he’s expecting something from the last job he applied for, yet, they call with just another number after saving 15 already.

But if they want to place advert, why can’t they just locate the Nigerian Tribune offices and we help them do the running around instead at pocket friendly cost.

When I discussed this issue with a customer care agent, I felt sorry for how helpless they are on this.

The agent revealed that there have been rising calls from provoking Nigerians on unofficial complaints like the one from our friend.

One shared an experience of how somebody called and while starting with request of tariff plan of the said network, “he started moaning and giving some erotic sounds, telling me that he hopes I wouldn’t be distracted by that sound…” It has gone that bad already.

nnc-logoNow, it’s hard to pacify Nigerians on this because we can’t just be the only one enduring economic recession, bad roads, unstable power supply, poor education sector, hospitals without facilities and now, teasing calls from network providers every passing day.

I don’t know if we share this in common with high-profile Nigerians too. If there has to be calls and SMS, how about something in form of “you just won N20,000 worth of airtime,” “We observed that you’ve not recharged for days, we know the economy is bad. Your account has been credited with N5,000 credit” and all those juicy stuff?

But then again, Nigerians, we no dey carry last (na true), but those agents at the receiving end of our pay-back calls are not the policy makers for their organisations, most of them are not even staff of the organisations and so, they also get those calls like we do.

Maybe the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) and the National Assembly would do well to help us get justice. But until that is done, there might just be a new battle line drawn between Nigerians and their fantastically disturbing network providers!

Happy Weekend!